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Birth stories & the best family photos EVER

2014 April 18
by Emily Hill

If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook or follow my ITRML Facebook page, you’ve seen the amazing family photos my friend Kim Orlandini took of us in October. In fact, she takes such amazing photos that every time I catch one of her birth stories, my ovaries start aching.

But back to the family photos. If my ovaries are going to ache, I’d prefer to wait until the end. Aching ovaries are distracting.

I was in need of an updated family photo for our canvas wall, plus I had high hopes of sending out Christmas cards before Valentine’s Day (so didn’t happen), so I booked a session with Kim and then began the hunt for what to wear.

Fortunately our local Swiss Days provided Livi’s skirt, which I used to coordinate the rest of our outfits for our family photos.

Family photos by Kim Orlandini Photography

Photo by Kim Orlandini


I pulled together the family and the outfits.

Kim Orlandini took the family and the outfits and turned them into some of the most amazing family photos EVER.

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini


I kid you not when I say we had over 100 photos that were just as jaw dropping as the ones I’ve shared.

These two were my most favorite.

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini


Kim even gave me my latest and greatest profile pic used on pretty much all my social media platforms.

Family photos by Kim Orlandini

Photo by Kim Orlandini


And now let’s bring on those ovarian ache-inducing birth stories. Kim Orlandini recently did my friend Stephanie’s birth story. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing a handful of photos so I could try to convey to you just how priceless Kim’s birth stories are.

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography

Birth story by Kim Orlandini Photography


SEE WHAT I MEAN?! Full-on makes you want to have another baby. Or a do-over for each one of your current children. Yes, Kim’s birth stories are so stunning—not to mention priceless—I am (almost) willing to go through childbirth again.

And I did natural childbirth with all four.

Oh, and this is my beautiful, talented, inspiring Kim Orlandini. You should get to know her.


Kim Orlandini

To see more examples of Kim’s birth story photography, you can find them here, here and here. You may want to grab a box of Kleenex while you’re at it.

To learn more about Kim Orlandini Photography and schedule a session (she’s booked through June so I’d do it ASAP!), you can find her online at KimOrlandini.com. And no, she didn’t compensate me write this post. I wrote it because I think everyone needs to hire her to do their photos (even if you live outside Utah).


ps post script

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Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Cajun turkey BLT with chipotle mayo

2014 April 10
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: This sponsored post was written while participating in my partnership with Oscar Mayer and One2One Network but as always, all opinions are my own. I received Deli Fresh BOLD coupons and other related items from Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods.

I’m a sandwich girl. I love all kinds of sandwiches, from your basic PB&J (toasted, of course) to a decked-out Philly cheese steak and everything in between. This Cajun turkey BLT with chipotle mayo was as much fun to eat as it was to photograph.

Okay, maybe even more fun.


Cajun turkey BLT with chipotle mayo


I kicked this Cajun turkey BLT up a notch (do people still say that?) by adding some sliced avocado and a generous dollop of homemade chipotle mayo. That and the soft ciabatta roll in place of our standard wheat bread had me savoring every bite. Oh my. It was good.


Cajun turkey BLT with chipotle mayo


Printable recipe for Cajun turkey BLT with avocado and chipotle mayo below. (You really need to print it if only for that addictive chipotle mayo recipe.)

Cajun Turkey BLT with Chipotle Mayo
Author: 
Recipe type: Sandwich
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A turkey BLT with the addition of avocado and chipotle mayo. You can thank me later.
Ingredients
Sandwich
  • Oscar Mayer Cajun Style Turkey Breast*
  • 1 leaf Romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 1 to 2 slices tomato
  • Chipotle mayo
  • Ciabatta roll (or your favorite sandwich bread)
Chipotle mayo
  • 1 to 1½ cups low-fat mayo (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 T adobo sauce (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Chipotle mayo
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Use immediately; refrigerate leftovers.
Sandwich
  1. Layer turkey followed by lettuce, bacon, avocado and tomato. Top with chipotle mayo.
Notes
You could also substitute the new Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD Chipotle Seasoned Chicken Breast or Italian Style Herb Turkey Breast and still have a scrumptious sandwich!

 

This sandwich features the Oscar Mayer Cajun Style Turkey Breast, one of their new Deli Fresh BOLD flavors. I know every one of their new Deli Fresh BOLD lunch meats is yummy. Why? Because I bought—and ate—their original Mesquite Turkey Breast the minute it hit shelves who knows how many years ago. It’s by far one of my favorite packaged lunch meats, no lie.

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD

But this sandwich would be just as tasty with any of the new Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD lunch meats. I’m all about trying the Chipotle Season Chicken Breast or Italian Style Herb Turkey Breast (or both) next time I make this BLT. Just look at the seasoning on those slices of turkey!

I probably won’t share, but you may be able to talk me into giving you a bite.

Maybe. If you’re lucky. And I’m not hangry.


Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD Italian Style Turkey Herb Breast


As far as the new Maple Honey Ham, I’m thinking slices of maple honey ham paired with a sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato and deli mustard on a soft country bread would be simply amazing. Or a grilled ham and Havarti with smashed avocado. Mmm…

Other than the fantastic flavor, I love how Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD lunch meats are free from artificial preservatives and flavors. Even better, they’re at least 97 percent fat free.

That last part means you can pile on extra chipotle mayo.

You can check out all the Deli Fresh BOLD options online at OscarMayer.com. You can also find Oscar Mayer on Twitter and Facebook.

And now to get a nice little ditty stuck in your head…

My Cajun turkey has a first name; it’s O-S-C-A-R.
My Cajun turkey has a second namel it’s M-A-Y-E-R.
I love to eat it every day,
And if you ask me why I’ll saaaaaay…
‘Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with C-A-J-U-N-T-U-R-K-E-Y.

Hey, it almost works.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

12 {fave} Easter crafts

2014 April 9
by Emily Hill

I’m well aware of the sheer number of Easter roundups but I couldn’t help posting one of my own. Most of these Easter crafts were spotted on my favorite blogs, and I’m all about sharing my friends’ creativity. Plus many of these look like something even I could do, so you know they’re totally manageable.


Easter crafts roundup

subway art Easter eggs
Love these subway art painted Easter eggs by Lil’ Luna.

burlap bunny table runner
Pretty sure I need this burlap bunny table runner by Eclectically Vintage.

Easter egg countdown
My kids would love this Easter egg countdown by Kojodesigns!

DIY hair ties
My girls need these DIY hair ties from Polkadot Chair to accessorize their Easter dresses.

Easter Math Game
Bring on the Easter candy corn with this Easter math game by Blissful Roots.

carrot inspired mason jar
My table needs this carrot-inspired mason jar from SNAP! Creativity.

bunny banner
This sweet & simple bunny banner from Crafting Chicks adds the perfect Easter touch.

burlap Easter bunnies
Oh my gosh, I die over these burlap Easter bunnies from Landeelu.

Easter chick canvas art
This Easter chick canvas art from Thirty Handmade Days belongs in my kids room. Seriously.

carrot and bunny fingerprint craft
All kinds of fun to be had with this fingerprint carrot and bunny craft from Sassy Dealz.

printable Easter banner
This hop, hop Easter banner from Paging Supermom needs to hop on over to my house!

funny bunny Easter hairdo
Oh. My. Gosh. All three of my girls need this funny bunny Easter hairdo from Simple As That.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Don’t go mental

2014 April 5
by Emily Hill

Along with my tips and tricks for healthy eating and ideas on how to incorporate more (hopefully enjoyable) exercise into your daily routine, I’m sharing the importance of mental health. Believe me, with four kids ages 6 to 16 and plenty of carpools, cooking and copyediting, I’ve come to understand the important of mental health.

With all the craziness and stress we experience daily, it’s important to unplug and decompress or we can quickly become angry, frustrated, anxious or depressed—or all of the above. Though a sweat-inducing workout is one of my favorite ways to unplug (those endorphins work wonders), top on my list is laughter and some solid time spent with girlfriends.

Girls night out

Girls’ night out–one of my favorite ways to stay mentally healthy.


In “Don’t Go Mental,” I share some of the tools I use to keep my me sane in a very insane world, from crazy fun girls’ nights out to yoga a couple times a week.  And when all else fails, I go with humor. Laughter really is the best medicine.

While checking out the full post, take some time to browse MarsHealthyLiving.com. Mars is striving to make products that not only taste great but that you can feel confident about eating and feeding to your families.  And the site is full of some great information. Go, Mars!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Grasshopper pie

2014 April 3
by Emily Hill

I’m pretty sure you could figure out how to make a grasshopper pie without my help, but I’m still going to post the recipe because it features my very favorite Oreo crust. It also uses my favorite mint-flavored ice cream, which is Breyer’s Oreos Cookies & Cream Mint.


Grasshopper pie with Oreo crust


This grasshopper pie is a joy to make because it takes such little effort yet is one of my family’s favorite desserts. It’s also a joy to photograph because I always eat a slice post photo shoot. I mean, why put a partially melted slice of perfectly good ice cream back in the freezer?


Grasshopper pie with Oreo crust


It’s too late to eat this “green” ice cream pie for St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s okay because it’s dang good any time of year…even the dead of winter.

Printable recipe for grasshopper pie below.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Grasshopper Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ice cream pies are one of my most favorite desserts and this one is by far my fave. The chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie I posted last August is a close second.
Ingredients
Crust
  • 25 Oreo cookies, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
Pie
  • 1 carton Breyer’s Oreo Cookies & Cream Mint ice cream (or your favorite mint ice cream)
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Optional toppings: Hot fudge, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, crushed Oreos
Instructions
Crust
  1. Place crushed Oreo cookies and melted butter in a medium bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Press into a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
Pie
  1. Soften ice cream by letting sit on counter for 10 to 15 minutes or microwaving on low power (30%), stirring between 30-second intervals.
  2. Gently scoop into pie crust and spread evenly.
  3. Place in freezer until set (approximately 3 to 4 hours).
  4. Remove a few minutes before serving so ice cream softens enough to slice. Serve topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Notes
* I like to use my food processor to crush the Oreo cookies. You get a much finer crumb and texture that way, but a good ol’ rolling pin and Ziploc bag work well too.


Our family’s other favorite ice cream pie is this chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie with the same delectable Oreo crust. It features Tillamook’s Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. And it’s to die for.


Chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie with Oreo cookie crust

ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

My prediction for Idol Top 2 (and American Idol in general)

2014 April 2
by Emily Hill

Let’s face it. For a while American Idol lost a bit of its Season XIII luster. What started out as a show full of hope and Harry Connick Jr. quickly went south when the Idol Top 30 were irreverently cut to the Idol Top 13. Even then, I still had faith in the show due to my experience behind the scenes at Randy Jackson’s boot camp.

I still vividly recall the IdolTweethearts’ conversation with David Hill and Trish Kinane and their vision for the show.

David Hill Trish Kinane American Idol IdolTweethearts v2

Trish Kinane & David Hill meet with the IdolTweethearts


But even then, it was hard to keep the fan fire burning as the show’s top 13 contestants seemed to lack more than one or two serious contenders. All 13 should have been worthy competition for the Carrie Underwoods, Kelly Clarksons, Phillip Phillips, Daughtrys and Adam Lamberts of the music industry. And yet, I could picked out a solid two I felt up to the task: Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene Asciutto.

And there you have my prediction for Idol Top 2.

Caleb Johnson can rock. No, I mean seriously ROCK. He has been one of my very most favorites since day one. And when Kenzie Hall was cut, he became top on the list.

Caleb Johnson on American Idol

Caleb Johnson (photo by American Idol)


Keith Urban may have said it best when he sent out this tweet:


Keith Urban Caleb Johnson tweet

His last performance of “Pressure and Time” may have solidified Nathan as a Caleb fan as well…

If Caleb can belt out the rock and roll, Jena Irene Asciutto can simply belt it out. This girl has some serious lungs.

Jena Irene Asciutto on American Idol

Jena Irene Asciutto (photo by American Idol)


Though I haven’t loved all of her performances, she is the next best thing to Caleb and her latest performance of “Bring Me to Life” was pretty impressive.


Yeah, so those two. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of every contestant in the Idol Top 8 but I bet you my last Diet Coke, Caleb and Jena will be the last two standing.

As far as the show, I predict American Idol will learn from its mistakes this season and come back stronger in Season XIV. Reinventing a show is never easy and there are bound to be a few speed bumps along the way (let’s not do that Idol-top-30-to-top-13 thing again, guys) but with a little tweaking and some helpful feedback (the IdolTweehearts are really, really good at that as is my friend Molly) the vision David Hill and Trish Kinane have for the show will come to fruition.

Fruition is the word of the day. Use it.

But in order to do so, American Idol will need to make some changes. Though I have quite a few ideas, I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I feel would have the greatest effect on the show. All of these ideas are totally doable. Except maybe the last one.


Make us feel more invested in the contestants.

Show us what happens off stage. This season we’ve seen very little of what happens behind the scenes other than the occasional #IdolSupperClub clip or handful of seconds spent with vocal coaches. Another popular voice competition nails it when it comes to showing the interaction of contestants with coaches. Idol fans want the same. I know for a fact a lot more took place during Randy Jackson’s boot camp than was shown viewers. American Idol really missed out on an opportunity to show fans the process of mentoring the contestants. On that same note, we not only want to see Idol contestants interacting more with coaches but also with each other. There is life outside the Idol stage. SHOW IT.


Get the judges more involved.

Granted, they’re not there to act as coaches per se, but what a waste of industry insight and music education (especially when it comes to Harry Connick Jr.) if all Harry, JLo and Keith get to do is give 48 seconds of feedback per contestant per show. We want these contestants to get as much training and coaching as possible so why not give more one-on-one time with an Idol judge or two—and being early in the process? Who knows? A few different ones may have made it to the Top 8 if that had been the case. It takes a village…and some of these contestants could have benefited from said village.


Discover some seriously stellar talent. And hold on to it.

I don’t know what’s happened over the years, but like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m disappointed in the overall talent of these final Idol contestants. Nathan and I may have commented more than once that most of the contestants in the blind auditions (you know which show I’m talking about), can sing as well if not better than most of the Idol contestants in the top 13. I don’t know if American Idol needs a better screening process—or if they just need to be better about holding on to real talent (Maurice? Keri? Briana? Savion? Kenzie? Really, Idol?). But something needs to change or you’ll lose me next season…at least between the auditions and Idol Top 2 episodes.

IdolTweethearts with American Idol contestant Maurice Townsend

Maurice Townsend, Idol Top 30, with IdolTweethearts Elizabeth, Meg & me.


Provide the IdolTweethearts with a private concert.

If you really want to up the ante and ensure great exposure for American Idol, invite the IdolTweethearts to a private concert featuring Idol judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. Throw in past Idol winner Phillip Phillips for good measure and you’ll have our undying devotion (i.e., mad social media skills) for seasons to come. We’ll even share behind-the-scenes footage from the concert with fans because we’re nice like that.


American Idol Hollywood Week IdolTweethearts

If you want to hear a quick story about how I came to be an IdolTweetheart, click here.

If you want to keep up with the IdolTweethearts, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow the hashtag #IdolTweethearts or join us for our weekly #IdolPreParty on Twitter every Thursday at 4pm PST / 7pm EST.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Seven layer bar cookies

2014 April 1
by Emily Hill

Last night around 10 p.m. I really, really wanted a batch of these seven layer bar cookies. But Nathan didn’t love me enough to whip up a batch.

Silly husband. 


Seven layer bar cookies


I came across this seven layer bar cookies recipe on Averie Cooks. Everything Averie posts on her site makes me want to lick the screen (computer or smartphone). If you’re not regularly checking out her recipes on her blog or Instagram, do it now.

The only change I made to this recipe was refrigerating the dough immediately after mixing rather than refrigerating individual scoops of cookie dough. I did scoop the leftover refrigerated dough into a freezable container and froze it for later use. Those cookies turned out just as yummy.

I know, I know…how could I possibly have leftover cookie dough? I actually doubled the recipe thinking it wouldn’t make enough. I was delighted to find it made too much!

Printable recipe for seven layer bar cookies below.

Seven Layer Bar Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
These seven layer bar cookies take your favorite Hello Dolly bars and turn them into a soft, chewy cookie. Yum!
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped graham crackers and crumbs (about 4 full-size crackers)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup butterscotch chips
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Scrape sides of bowl and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. Fold in graham crackers (include crumbs), chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and coconut.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate or at least 2 hours before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  6. Using a medium cookie dough scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheet; space cookies at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set. Do not bake longer than 9 minutes!
  7. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3 to 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

If you’re in the freshly baked cookie mood (and who isn’t?), you may also enjoy these cookie recipes.


Salted caramel toffee Rolo cookies

Salted caramel Rolo cookies

Chocolate caramel pretzel cookies

Chocolate caramel pretzel cookies

Chocolate chip coconut cookies

Chocolate chip coconut cookies


And if what you really want is cookie dough, try these babies…


Cookie dough pretzel bites

Cookie dough pretzel bites


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.